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Lamppost Pizza closes, says Poker Room is to blame

Lamppost Pizza closes, says Poker Room is to blame

Lamppost Pizza, a family restaurant that served the Turlock community for the past nine years, officially closed their doors to the public on Sunday evening.

POSTED October 10, 2013 10:46 p.m.

After nine years of business, Lamppost Pizza has closed their doors.

According to owner Kevin Brophy, the demise of the family restaurant is partly due to the opening of the Turlock Poker Room next door.

“We have just been having some problems with the Poker Room,” said Brophy. “The family restaurant just doesn’t work with that next door to us and the sales have been going down. I’m really surprised that the city let them come next to us. It’s just beyond me.”

Brophy said that the Poker Room and Lamppost Pizza had entered a deal where the Poker Room would pay the restaurant’s rent from April to November as they made expansion plans that would take over the restaurant’s facility.

“They were basically going to buy us out,” said Brophy. “Which was fine because we had a deal. But then I got a call from the landlord saying that the Poker Room had bailed on us and that we owed $54,000 in back rent. There’s no way we could come up with that while we’re trying to get out of debt ourselves, and then they hit us with that? My love was the restaurant business and I’m really hurt over this. But they don’t seem to be. They’re just crooked people, but it comes with the business that they’re in. Gambling is not a good thing.”

The Turlock Poker Room contends the deal with Lampost never came to fruition.

“There was never a buyout offer, “said Philip Rheinschild Jr., the co-owner of the Turlock Poker Room. “They approached us asking if we would be interested in their space as an attempt to get out of their lease agreement. Through negotiations, we were not able to come to terms that were acceptable to Turlock Poker Room.”

Although the Turlock Poker Room had made expansion plans that would include building their own restroom, the two businesses shared a common restroom for their patrons.

“The common bathroom doesn’t seem to work with those over 21,” said Brophy. “People told us they stopped coming in because of that common bathroom because the restaurant just didn’t have that family feel anymore.”

Rheinschild disputed the claim that the clientele at the Turlock Poker Room were causing a decline in business at the pizza parlor.

“Since moving to the Turlock Cinema Center in 2009, we have followed a policy of working collaboratively with our neighbor businesses to the betterment of everyone,” Rheinschild said. “We have documented on-site sales with Lamppost Pizza well in excess of six-figures, not to mention all the customer traffic our patrons provided outside of the Turlock Poker Room. We are on-track with our plans to expand with the addition of a full-service bar in the suite adjacent to the movie theater. We wish the owners and staff of Lamppost Pizza the best of luck in the future.”

According to Brophy, Lamppost Pizza had 12 employees before shutting their doors.

“At one time we had 22 employees when we were doing well, and then we got down to 12. We had to cut some positions as part of the recession, but things were starting to go well until the Poker Room came in and it started slipping again,” said Brophy. “I’ve also heard rumors of the sales going down at the movie theater, and the Dairy Queen nearby recently closed too. They smoke out front and it affects all the businesses around them. It’s not a good environment for Turlock and I wish they would’ve put them somewhere out of the city.”

The local Dairy Queen located in the same plaza on W. Main Street closed their doors to the public early last week.

Although Lamppost Pizza is shutting their doors at their 2321 W. Main location, Brophy says they may look to open in a different location in the future.

“I love Turlock and I loved my business, and this is a great community,” said Brophy. “For now we’re just closing the doors, but we may or may not open again in the future. But if we did, it would definitely be closer into town.”

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